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Late-Round Catchers - Fantasy Baseball Draft Values And Targets

Welcome officially to the 2023 fantasy baseball season! Late-round picks in fantasy baseball can often be the difference between a mediocre team and a championship contender. While it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of selecting big-name players early in the draft, finding those hidden gems in the later rounds is equally essential. As a fantasy manager, it's crucial to do your due diligence and research these overlooked players' statistics, injury history, and current team situation. While taking a chance on a player based on a hunch or a cool name may seem appealing, making informed decisions that increase your chances of success is the wiser strategy. With careful consideration and some luck, these late-round picks could be the key to unlocking your team's full potential.

Today, we're looking at some late-round catchers for you to consider drafting in your season-long leagues this season. Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and become a priority late-round draft target? Read on to see our take.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Usually only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2023 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today to start reading all of our in-depth 2023 player outlooks and many other premium articles and tools including Team Sync, the Live Draft Sync assistant, Custom Rankings Service, and so much more – available exclusively in our 2023 Draft Kit.

Featured Promo: Get any full-season MLB and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Team Sync platform, Premium articles, daily Matchup Rating projections, 15 lineup tools, DFS cheat sheets, Research Stations, Lineup Optimizers and much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners

Cal Raleigh will forever be remembered for the HR that finally sent Seattle into the postseason, but his 2022 numbers also delivered plenty of fantasy juice. He hit .211/.284/.489 with 27 HRs in just 415 PAs and the pop was legit. His 55.7 FB% was insane, but it works when you have a 19.1% HR/FB backed by 94.8 mph of average airborne exit velocity and a 15.4% rate of Brls/BBE. Raleigh also pulled 31.2% of his flies, making them even more valuable.

Unfortunately, the poor batting average was also real. Raleigh struck out 29.4% of the time last season, and his 15.3 SwStr% suggests that he deserved all of those whiffs. Furthermore, the same 55.7 FB% that supports his home runs also gives his .226 BABIP staying power. Maybe the new shift rules will help him boost his average a little, as Raleigh was shifted against at every opportunity last year. Regardless, a catcher with a solid chance of cracking 30+ HRs is a good value at his ADP of 154.46 provided you prepare for the batting average hit.

-- Rick Lucks - RotoBaller

 

Travis d'Arnaud, Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud remains a quality catching option for fantasy managers heading into the 2023 season. The veteran turned in a strong season for the National League East franchise in 2022, hitting .268 with a .319 on-base percentage and 18 home runs in 426 plate appearances. The home runs marked a career-high for the catcher, who unsurprisingly also turned in a strong barrel rate compared to his past metrics. For reference, d'Arnaud's barrel rate finished at 8.5%, the highest it's been in a full season in the last seven years.

The veteran split time with fellow catcher William Contreras behind the plate during the 2022 campaign for the National League East club. And while Contreras is now in Milwaukee with the Brewers, the 33-year-old still won't be playing in a full-time role thanks to the arrival of Sean Murphy. Still, the lack of fantasy depth league-wide behind the plate positions d'Arnaud as a quality option for fantasy managers heading into drafts this spring.

-- Ben Rosener - RotoBaller

 

Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds

Coming off a breakout season in 2021 and the departure of Tucker BarnhartTyler Stephenson (collarbone) was in a position to take over as the full-time starting catcher for the Reds in 2022. Unfortunately, his 2022 season was plagued by injuries, and he was limited to 50 games. He broke his thumb on June 9, which cost him a month.

Just two weeks after he returned, he suffered a broken collarbone and missed the rest of the season. Catchers have an increased risk of injury overall, but there's no reason to be concerned about re-injury. Stephenson has only moderate power but can provide a good batting average, which can be hard to find in a catcher.

He slashed .319/.372/.482 across 183 plate appearances in 2022. The 26-year-old also plays in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, can fill in at first base and designated hitter, and should hit in the middle of the lineup. All will increase his opportunity for runs and RBI.

ATC projects Stephenson to slash .266/.336/.418 with 14 homers, 60 RBI, and a .330 WOBA across 483 plate appearances in 2023. The former first-round pick is being drafted as the 11th catcher at pick 131 in NFBC drafts, which is about where ATC projections and the RotoBaller rankings have valued him. If he can stay healthy, Stephenson will be a good bet to meet or exceed that value.

-- Jenny Butler - RotoBaller

 

Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers boast potentially the best offense in baseball entering the 2023 campaign and expect catcher Will Smith to be right in the middle of it. The 2016 first-round pick broke onto the scene with an impressive debut in 2019 at the age of 24 but looks like a potential No. 1 fantasy catcher heading towards his age-28 season. Smith launched 24 home runs and collected 87 RBI last season across 137 games, posting a 127 wRC+ in the process. It was actually a below-average season for a player that owns a career .240 ISO, .857 OPS, .363 wOBA, and 132 wRC+ across 358 big-league games. 

Smith projects to hit third in the order in a loaded Dodgers lineup that includes Mookie BettsFreddie FreemanMax Muncy, and J.D. Martinez. ATC projects Smith to appear in 128 games, smashing 24 HR, knocking in 79 runs, and posting a .221 ISO, .358 wOBA, and 134 wRC+ in 2023. Smith is our third-ranked catcher and should have his name called around the 52nd pick of your draft. He is undoubtedly in the mix to produce the best counting stats at the catcher position, making his ADP more than reasonable.

-- Brenton Kemp - RotoBaller

 

William Contreras, Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras showed he belongs in the big leagues during the 2022 season in Atlanta. He slashed .278/.354/.506 with 20 homers, 51 runs, 45 RBI, and a pair of stolen bases across 97 games. Contreras isn't going to produce that high of a batting average again, considering his 27.7% strikeout rate, .344 BABIP, and .243 xBA from this season.

But the 25-year-old won't be a dud in that category, as he hits the ball hard (career 91 mph average exit velocity) and hits it on the ground (career 51.1% ground ball rate). Contreras improved his plate discipline from the 2021 season, posting a 54th-percentile 28.8% chase rate and a 34.3% whiff rate after a 31.9% and 36.4% mark, respectively.

His power is undeniable, as he's posted a 12.6% barrel rate with 28 home runs over his 153 career games. That kind of power can overcome Contreras' ground ball tendencies, especially if he starts pulling fly balls more often, and a move to the power-friendly park of American Family Field only makes things better.

The one-time All-Star should get more playing time after a trade to the Brewers, who were without a true number-one catcher prior to the deal, and will likely utilize him as a designated hitter as well. Contreras will be in the heart of the lineup, giving him plenty of opportunities to reach 80 runs and RBI. He's one of the best offensive catchers in baseball who will get as many at-bats as almost any other backstop. Contreras offers good value for his ADP of 129 and is a better pick than MJ Melendez (100 ADP) and Tyler Stephenson (131 ADP), who sandwich him in drafts.

-- Spencer Seguin - RotoBaller



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